Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2014

Rosberg could take first Monaco hat-trick since Senna

2015 Monaco Grand Prix preview

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Ayrton Senna, McLaren-Honda MP4/5B, Monte-Carlo, 1990No driver has won the Monaco Grand Prix three times in a row since Ayrton Senna, the undisputed master of Monte-Carlo, scored five consecutive wins between 1989 and 1993.

Lewis Hamilton has made no secret of his desire to emulate Senna’s achievements. But since his sole Monaco victory seven years ago he hasn’t led a lap at the principality.

His Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, however, took victory in the last two Monaco Grands Prix – and it is he who has the chance to follow in Senna’s footsteps this weekend.

Despite pushing his team mate to the final round of the 2014 title battle, Rosberg had struggled to match Hamilton during the opening phase of this season. His first victory of this season in Spain came not a moment too soon and if he can continue his winning ways in Monaco it will put real momentum behind his championship bid.

But with Mercedes set to dominate proceedings around the fabled Monte Carlo streets once more, the potential for another duel between the two rivals is tantalising.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2014Formula One arrives at one of its oldest and most traditional venues while headlines are dominated by the debate over the sport’s long-term future.

The tight, twisty Monte Carlo streets may have been the scene for many of the sport’s most famous triumphs, but races in Monaco are rarely unpredictable and regularly processional.

But that which makes Monaco such an ill-suited venue for F1 racing – slow speeds, zero run-off, unforgiving barriers and minimal overtaking opportunities – also sets it apart as one of the most unique and often enthralling races of the season.

Almost everything about the Monaco Grand Prix is different to a typical race weekend. Practice begins on Thursday, the race is only 260km long instead of the usual 305 and the trophy ceremony takes place in front of the royal box, rather than a podium.

Track data: Monte-Carlo

Lap length3.337km (2.074 miles)
Distance260.286km (161.734 miles)
TyresSoft and Super-soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Monte-Carlo track data in full

The circuit itself may have evolved somewhat since the original races in the 1920s, but corners such as St Devote, the Grand Hotel Hairpin, Tabac and Rascasse provide the same challenge to today’s drivers that they did to all the greats of old.

With the slowest average lap speed by far of any circuit on the calendar, engines are rarely pushed to their limits around Monaco, with brake management the primary mechanical concern of the weekend.

The lower cornering speeds of Monaco mean that Pirelli have opted to debut their brand new super-soft compound tyres this weekend. F1’s official tyre supplier says it should heat up more quickly while being less susceptible to blistering.

Monte-Carlo circuit, Monaco, 2015Often at Monaco what happens on Saturday afternoon is just as important as Sunday. The pole sitter has taken victory in ten out of the previous eleven races around the principality. Rosberg proved how vital the top spot on the grid is here last year by winning from pole for the second year in a row – albeit having taken the top spot under controversial circumstances.

This year minor revisions to the Swimming Pool section mean that the circuit is now three metres shorter in length than previous years, while extensive resurfacing of the Monte Carlo streets may provide drivers with increased grip compared to previous seasons.

The unforgiving barriers also mean that the chances of a Safety Car intervention are at their highest of any circuit aside from Singapore – which means the dynamic of the race could always change at a moment’s notice.

Monaco Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Lewis Hamilton’s contract extension has finally been completed, signed and formally announced. A second Monaco Grand Prix win would be the perfect way to celebrate.

Red Bull

The fact that engine power may not be as vital at Monaco compared to other circuits might not be of too much comfort to a Red Bull team who continue to struggle for overall performance, even compared to its sister junior team. Daniil Kvyat in particular will be seeking a strong result having faced criticism from Helmut Marko in the lead up to the weekend.

Williams

The jury’s out on whether Williams made genuine progress last time out in Spain or whether they were just flattered by a difficult weekend for Ferrari. Valtteri Bottas is certainly back at the top of his game, beating one of the red cars in each of the last two races, but an engine problem scuppered his Monaco race last year.

Ferrari

Ferrari arrive at Monaco with their best package in years, but they will still be heavily reliant on misfortune for Mercedes if they are to take their first Monaco Grand Prix victory for 14 years. But having taken victory in Malaysia thanks to a clever strategy call under a Safety Car and the high probability of a Safety Car intervention on Sunday, Ferrari could be able to spring another surprise if an opportunity presents itself.

McLaren

Fernando Alonso is targeting McLaren’s first points finish of the season at Monaco this weekend. But to achieve that, the team must ensure that they are not struck again by the braking issues that took the Spaniard out of his home grand prix last time out in Spain.

Force India

Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Force India will need to focus on qualifying having had both cars eliminated from Q1 in Spain, but the team believe the softer compounds will suit their car.

Toro Rosso

Having raced at Monaco in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2013 and 2014, Carlos Sainz Jr has a key advantage this weekend over team mate Max Verstappen, who has never raced around the street circuit before. Both drivers will be hoping for a weekend free from reliability problems as they look to build on a points tally that doesn’t accurately reflect the performance of the STR10.

Lotus

Following a difficult race in Spain, Lotus will be keen to add more to their points tally in Monaco with softer tyres that they believe suit their package. Having impressed at Monaco before, Pastor Maldonado is desperate need of a points finish this weekend after a tumultuous opening to the 2015 season.

Sauber

Felipe Nasr, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015Sauber began the season brightly in Australia but haven’t hit the same heights since then and the team’s drivers have drawn attention to the lack of updates on the C34 since then.

Manor

Monaco will no doubt be a difficult weekend for Manor as the team return to the circuit where they scored their first and only points in Formula 1 here last year but without Jules Bianchi to celebrate the achievement with them. “That was an incredible, unforgettable day and it is very important to everyone in the team that we honour what Jules achieved for us,” says Team Principal John Booth. The team will retain the Stevens-Merhi lineup for this weekend.

2015 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Lewis Hamilton1.201.40125/5Form guide
Nico Rosberg2.202.20135/5Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo6.807.606105/5Form guide
Daniil Kvyat10.809.339103/4Form guide
Felipe Massa5.806.204105/5Form guide
Valtteri Bottas5.604.75464/5Form guide
Sebastian Vettel2.803.00155/5Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen6.603.75254/5Form guide
Fernando Alonso15.7511.5011122/4Form guide
Jenson Button16.8013.6711163/4Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg13.4012.257154/5Form guide
Sergio Perez14.4011.008135/5Form guide
Max Verstappen10.2011.677173/5Form guide
Carlos Sainz Jnr10.009.758134/5Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.408.257114/5Form guide
Pastor Maldonado12.0015.0015151/5Form guide
Marcus Ericsson12.6011.508144/5Form guide
Felipe Nasr12.409.805125/5Form guide
Will Stevens19.0016.0015173/3Form guide
Roberto Merhi19.5016.5015184/4Form guide
Kevin Magnussen17.000/0Form guide

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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19 comments on “Rosberg could take first Monaco hat-trick since Senna”

  1. Rosberg is overall by every objective measure more successful than Hamilton around Monaco. He’s had more pole positions, won more times, lead more laps, out-qualified Lewis 5-3 around here, and out-raced him 4-3 in a two car finish.

    When you take into consideration than Lewis has spent the majority of his career in much better cars than Nico, this is quite surprising.

    1. Doesn’t really say much either. Hamilton was held back by McLaren in 2007 when they wanted Alonso to win and last year Rosberg’s “slip-up” took the win away.

      1. He was pretty unlucky in 2011 qualifying as well. He was stronger than Button in practice, and in qualifying he looked capable of putting it on pole, going fastest in Q1 and Q2. But he had significant traffic on his first Q3 lap so he had to back out of it, and then Perez had his crash which caused a red flag for over an hour. When the session resumed the track was a lot slower so no one improved and therefore Hamilton could only manage 7th – 1.7s off the pace – as everyone else had managed to get in banker laps in the much better track conditions before the red flag. The salt in the wound was that his lap time got deleted for cutting the chicane so he started 9th. Without the traffic on his first effort he would’ve most likely been in the top 2 or at least top 3.

        1. But yeah, in general Lewis surprisingly hasn’t really had much success around Monaco in F1. I refer to it as surprising because he was usually dominant there in the lower formulas – in the two races he did there in Euro F3 he had two poles, two wins and a fastest lap, and in GP2 he won the Monaco race with another pole and win. In F1, it’s one of the very few tracks on the current calendar where he hasn’t had a pole at (I think the others are Austria, Suzuka and obviously Mexico).

          He wasn’t too far off pole last year mind you. He was only 0.059s behind Rosberg on the first runs, and he had set a personal best first sector (where he was losing all of his time to Nico before) before the yellow flags. Rosberg is obviously very good around here though, so it will be an interesting battle for pole this weekend, could go either way.

        2. @polo, the way I remember it, McLaren and Hamilton opted not to send Lewis out for two runs in Q3 in 2011 (saving tyres I suppose), and when he went for his run, Perez crashed. Then indeed he could not set a good time in the final minutes.

          @kingshark, not wanting to take anything away from Rosberg’s achievements, but it was unfortunate for Hamilton that in the past two races, there was a safety car period right in the pit window, leaving him with no realistic possibility to attack.

      2. @patrickl

        Doesn’t really say much either. Hamilton was held back by McLaren in 2007 when they wanted Alonso to win and last year Rosberg’s “slip-up” took the win away.

        Hamilton was never going to beat Alonso around here in 2007.

        As for last year, well, the fact that Hamilton has spend the first 6 years of his career in far better cars than Rosberg is kinda a bigger factor than one qualifying session.

        1. @Kingshark, No indeed Hamilton couldn’t win in 2007, because McLaren was holding him back. That was exactly the point.

          Otherwise he would easily have beaten Alonso. Even with the extra (and unused) fuel that McLaren kept giving him as ballast, he was still on his way to beat Alonso, but then they called him in to make sure he stayed behind.

          You also completely made up that nonsense about Hamilton being in the better car for 6 years. The only years in which Rosberg beat Hamilton when they were on different teams was in 2009 and 2012. In both of those years Rosberg was in the better car. The other 4 times Hamilton was in a better car and in those cases indeed beat Rosberg. Rosberg even managed to crash out of one race.

          1. @patrickl
            I’d like to hear some reasons on why you think Williams were better than McLaren in 2009. Kovalainen was absolutely up there with Rosberg in Q3 (only 0.060 s slower), and was actually slightly faster in Q2 (by 0.037 s). Rosberg had a 3 laps less fuel load than Kovalainen in Q3. I also think that most people would generally agree that Rosberg is better than Kovalainen.

          2. Seriously? You didn’t see the 2009 McLaren struggle while Williams had the double diffuser from the start?

          3. @patrickl
            No. Also, you ignored my point about an average driver like Kovalainen being able to match Rosberg’s speed around Monaco in 2009. McLaren was a reasonably good car that weekend.

  2. Mustavo Gaia
    20th May 2015, 18:16

    Good, now we know that ROS won’t win.
    How can we enjoy F1 if a driver like ROS equals SEN?

    1. How can we enjoy F1 if a driver like ROS equals SEN?

      How can you enjoy F1 when you seem to think 3 in a row = 5 in a row?

    2. How can we enjoy F1 if a driver like ROS equals SEN?

      Just to let you know, Maldonado has more race wins around Barcelona than Senna does, despite the 1991 McLaren being a superior car to the 2012 Williams.

      This kind of stuff is kinda meaningless.

  3. I really hope he doesn’t… This is a record from Senna one would like to be unbeaten forever.

    1. @bypo – Rosberg can win this year and next year and still won’t equal the record.

    2. Ayrton Senna, the undisputed master of Monte-Carlo, scored five consecutive wins between 1989 and 1993.

      I am sure THIS will never be beaten… maybe…

  4. I always look forward to Monaco, because even if it often turns out pretty dull, there is still a small chance it might be very special. The 2011 race was very good until the red flag, for instance.

    Monaco also lends itself to surprising strategies more than some other tracks, due to the slow warm-up of the soft tyre, and the fact that a two- (or possibly even three-) stop race is quicker if it weren’t for traffic. In 2011 we saw Vettel accidentally change to a very early one-stop, and in 2012 again Vettel had an interesting strategy by going very long on the prime tyre. Perhaps this year he could try to attack the Mercedes with a two-stop strategy and a late charge on the super softs, who knows.

    Finally, this was one of the few tracks on which last year Raikkonen looked better than Alonso, so let’s see what he can do this year.

  5. That’s unusual these days – for an F1 driver to turn up at Monaco having never driven there before. Verstappen will be worth watching – I’m sure he’ll be fine and down to serious lap times in no time.
    Would have loved to see Merhi race in both Renault 3.5 and F1 the same day, but he clearly thinks he has a future at Manor, as he’s just doing F1 this weekend.

    1. Just to let you know, Merhi will not race in Formula Renault 3.5 this weekend. He will be replaced by Alex Fontana for Formula Renault 3.5.

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